Comprising of five sites, Hiraizumi’s temples, gardens,
and archeological sites representing the Buddhist Pure
Land were inscribed as World Heritage Sites in 2011. The
monuments date back to the 11th and 12th century when
Hiraizumi served as a prominent political and cultural
place of power.
Hiraizumi holds several preserved temples that were based on Pure Land Buddhism. These four temples include the Chuson-ji, Motsu-ji, Kanjizaiō-in Ato, and Muryōkō-in Ato. The concept of Pure Land Buddhism and the indigenous Japanese worship of nature and Shintoism fused into a unique design and planning of gardens. The Pure Land Gardens were built by ruling clan family Ôshû Fujiwara. The four gardens of these temples clearly exemplified a symbolic importance of the diffusion of Buddhism and Japan’s nature worship. The fifth UNESCO-designated site is Mount Kinkeisan, an important link to the gardens and worship.
Unfortunately, much of the city and its structures were destroyed when Hiraizumi lost its political and administrative status in 1189. Two of the gardens were reconstructed from excavations, and the other two remain buried. Regardless, these temple complexes are authentic manifestations of the Buddhist Pure Land concept.